New Nintendo 3DS XL Review

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This is the first review for the new direction the site will be going.  It’s no lie that the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV have a limited life span.  Any and every console in the gaming world does.  Perhaps mobile and PC have ongoing life-spans, but every console and handheld system has a life span that eventually runs out.  The Vita is no exception to that and nor is its rival, the Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo’s current handheld console is the topic for today’s writing.  With integrating and making this site an all-handheld site instead of just the PS Vita, I thought it best to start with a hardware review for that rival.  Without further delay, I present my first integrated writing and my official review of the New Nintendo 3DS!

Design

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The “New” Nintendo 3DS is designed mostly like the old one was.  The general clamshell casing is the same and has the same dimensions as the other console.  The most notable differences are some placement changes as well as new buttons that have been thrown onto the system.  As far as changes are concerned, it has a MicroSD slot instead of a normal SD Card slot and the Nintendo DS/3DS Cart slot is on the bottom of the system, alongside the headphone jack, stylus holder, and power button.

There are three new buttons on the New 3DS.  The first two are new triggers called ZL and ZR, right next to the L and R buttons.  Imagine it like L2 and R2, but next to the normal triggers instead of behind them.  These are used as extra triggers in certain games, but they don’t have a lot of overall use so far.  The other is the C Stick, which is used for camera movement in some compatible games.

These buttons aren’t used in many games.  Some new games use them, like the New 3DS-exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and older games that were compatible with the Circle Pad Pro accessory.  Similar to only certain Vita games having L2/R2 controls on the PlayStation TV, these new buttons are only used in certain games and cannot simply have other controls directed to them.  For example, they are used in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, but they cannot be used in Ocarina of Time 3D.

Other additions or enhancements with the physical hardware is the fact that you can wirelessly connect a New 3DS to your PC to transfer media (which I plan to do for 3DS Game Reviews), the camera quality has been enhanced by a fair amount, and the 3D has been substantially improved by using the camera for the 3D effect.  This is a big thing as I never could find the “sweet spot” for the 3D on my old 3DS XL.  But the New 3DS has Super-Stable 3D that vastly improves that feature.

Deep down inside is one of the biggest enhancements: CPU Power.  The New 3DS has an improved CPU that can process information faster than that of the original 3DS.  That means that it improves performance of 3DS games and lowers load times.  The software has also been modified a bit, showing a little bit of a different home menu than the original 3DS had.  It looks very similar, but there are a few things different.  The new system also has built in Amiibo support for Nintendo’s Amiibo figures.

All in all, it looks like the old 3DS, savor the extra buttons, so there’s not really going to be a learning curve for the new controls.  There aren’t many games that use the new buttons yet, anyways, so the transition will be absolutely painless.

Performance

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The performance of this new system doesn’t have a whole lot to talk about, but there are some things worth noting.  The first is the improved CPU performance.  I played around with a few games and can certainly see a little bit of improvement with loading sequences.  However, games like Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire still have that lag when you have the 3D turned up.  It’s not too noticeable, but the New 3DS’s extra CPU power isn’t quite enough to completely get rid of that problem.

This was made because Nintendo has some games in mind that they’re developing that are only playable on the New 3DS.  Right now, the only game that is like this is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.  This was a move from Nintendo that was very mixed with fans.  Some people are happy the 3DS is getting more expansive games.  Others are questioning the logic in forcing their customers to buy a new system just to play a few new games.  With only one title exclusive to the new model, some don’t have a lot of incentive to upgrade just yet.

One thing I can personally say has improved is the touch screen on the system.  Since I also use an iPhone and a PS Vita, I don’t always think to grab the stylus when I’m playing 3DS games.  I use my finger.  On the original 3DS XL, this was a hassle because I had to press down really hard to get it to recognize my input.  On the New 3DS, the touch screen is a lot more responsive to finger touch.  It’s nothing like Vita or Mobile touch screens, but it is a pretty big improvement for those that go on impulse with using a finger instead of a stylus pen.

Battery Life is also something I was concerned about.  With the system using a more hefty CPU, I worried that it would drastically decrease the battery life of the system.  So, I took a few days to do some tests with the battery and it came out pretty acceptable.  With the Wi-Fi on and the system on its maximum brightness setting but with the 3D on and off at times, it lasted about 5 ½ hours.  That’s with utilizing resources pretty heavily.  With the brightness down and Wi-Fi off, it lasts considerably longer.  That’s pretty impressive, considering the original 3DS XL expected 4-6 hours out of its battery life.

Summary

The New Nintendo 3DS XL is a nice feat for Nintendo in its family of 3DS consoles alongside the original, XL, and 2DS.  Although there’s not a lot of incentive to upgrade with very few exclusive titles at its disposal, it’s definitely something for 3DS owners to look into and an instant buy for someone looking to get into Nintendo’s handheld world.

9/10

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